Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Flying dolphins!

We had a blast watching dolphins last Sunday!

The pelagic trip offshore 30 miles from San Diego on June 10 was primarily for bird watching. However, we came across numerous pods of dolphins chasing schools of fish to the surface. The Common Dolphins--both the long-beaked and short-beaked varieties--herded the fish together in a final splashing assault.

So many fish at the surface attracted Elegant Terns and Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters. These birds were diving into the water from flight. While the terns flew high into the air again for impressive high-dives, the shearwaters would often remain in the water. They'd stick their head under to look for fish, then run a few feet on the water with wings open and plunge into the water again.

Sooty Shearwater puts on the brakes to avoid flying into leaping Common Dolphin
Sooty Shearwater puts on the brakes to avoid flying into leaping Common Dolphin
Every once in a while a dolphin would decide to jump out of the water. Photographing such a random jump is pretty impossible. However, occasionally one dolphin would jump several times in a row. Thus I was able to photograph this dolphin's near mid-air-collision. I keep imagining I can see a goofy grin on the dolphin's face and hear the angry cussing of the shearwater.

Common Dolphin rockets to space
"We have liftoff." SpaceX has nothing on this little rocketman.
Common Dolphin riding the bow wave
Common Dolphin riding the bow wave.
As usual, several dolphins peeled off from the feeding group to come and play in the bow wake of our boat. It must be nice to so easily find and capture your food that you can take a play break right in the middle of dinner!

You don't realize how poorly these close-up animals photograph, though. The water distorts their appearance. When they break the surface for a quick breath, the splash nearly completely hides them. These close animals are best shown in video, where our slow eyes can combine all the frames of distorted outlines and splashes into an exciting spectacle.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I really want to hear from you! I've changed settings (again) in order to try to make commenting easier without opening it up to spammers. Please note, however, that comments to posts older than 14 days will be moderated. Thank you.